It was hard not to be excited by the prospect of Amazon workers voting for a union in Bessemer, Alabama, and it was damned disappointing when they didn't. But the Amazon campaign was not the only union campaign to watch in the South. Over the last few years, locals of the United Campus Workers (UCW)—an affiliate of the Communication Workers of America (CWA)—have been popping up on public university campuses across the South and beyond.

This movement has been building for decades. In the 1980s state employees without bargaining rights in Texas, Oklahoma, and Missouri organized with the CWA. In the 1990s, as at many other university campuses, student, staff, and faculty at the University of Tennessee (UT) in Knoxville organized a successful living wage campaign, which they later turned into an independent union, the United Campus Workers. They fought for wage increases and against privatization, and in 2003 they...

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